North Koreans are being asked to eat less food as the communist nation deals with a food emergency that is expected to continue at least until 2025, according to reports.
A shortage of food in the nation led by dictator Kim Jong Un has resulted from a shutdown of its border with China, an action that was taken in 2020 in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
But the move has devastated North Korea’s economy as food prices have spiked, and has resulted in starvation deaths among its population of 25 million, the report said.
Some residents in North Korea suspect that the Kim regime’s request for citizens to cut back on food consumption suggests the leader “is not aware of how serious the food situation is,” a source told RFA.
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About 40% of North Korea’s population is estimated by the U.N. World Food Program to be undernourished and the nation has been short of food this year by about 860,000 tons – or the equivalent of two months’ worth of food, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, RFA reported.
“Some of the residents are saying that the situation right now is so serious they don’t know if they can even survive the coming winter,” a second source, in Sinuiju, North Korea, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China, told RFA.
The first source told the outlet that North Korean officials were trying to blame the food crisis on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic but “the residents do not trust the authorities’ explanation,” the report said.
Other causes alleged by North Korea included the effects of natural disasters and repercussions from economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the U.N., North Korean officials wrote in a review submitted to the United Nations.
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Chinese exports to North Korea increased for the third consecutive month in August but have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang has recently resumed the testing of missiles after a hiatus. The most recent tests occurred Tuesday when the North fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.
In September, North Korea test-fired a hypersonic missile into the sea.